Another companion gone but not to worry because the next companion is not a completely unknown face - Donna Noble takes up the offer to travel with the Doctor. I quite liked this series and personally I liked the Tenth Doctor with Donna the best (as much as I love Rose I thought her interactions with the Ninth Doctor were better).
Christmas Special - Voyage of the Damned
But first up is the Christmas Special and Kylie Minogue (as Astrid Perth) joins the Doctor on the space-Titanic (clearly they didn't get the memo on its predecessor). It's always great to have an episode with a mix of characters and aliens.
The historian and Earth-guide Mr Copper (famous for Keeping Up Appearances provides comic relief with his explanations of Earth and Christmas customs (such as going to war with and eating Turkey).
We get to meet (at this stage unknowingly) Donna's granddad Wilfred who's manning his little stall in the empty London streets (because based on the last few years, Christmas is not so much the season of joy but alien invations).
A meglomaniac pays an ailing Captain to crash the Titanic (so perhaps he did know what he was doing when he named the ship) and the Doctor must band together with a small group of survivers to work out what's going on and prevent the ship from plummeting to earth.
Job done but not without the loss of several brave souls. Great Christmas romp - fine cruising, London, spaceship, good and bad people, aliens, cheesy lines. Fantastic!
Episode 1 - Partners in Crime
Yay, the return of Donna Noble. We met Donna one year ago when she got caught up in an alien invasion during her wedding. She declined the Doctor's invitation to join him but has realised that nothing compares. Went to Egypt, did the usual tourist thing and would you know it, back at work before you know it.
But she's determined to find the Doctor so she tells her star gazing grandad Wilfred to keep an eye out for a blue box (they are so sweet together) and the Donna starts snooping around anything that's weird and possibly alien because how else do you find the Doctor?!
The first half is brilliant with near misses as they both investigate the same company - Adipose Industries - for the diet pills they're promoting ("The fat just walks away" - literally!). When they finally meet up in the same spot, it is classic. Miss Foster is toying with another investigative journalist when Donna peeks in through the door window and the Doctor peeks in outside from a window cleaner. They both spot each other and then begins a hilarious mime by Donna as she acts out what she's been up to, until they are caught by Miss Foster and the chase begins.
The adipose (fat) are such cute little square blobs. They form from the fat in the middle of the night when people are asleep (literally walking away) but with Miss Foster caught she triggers a mass spawning of adipose and people everywhere start wriggling about as the fat blobs move inside them before popping out.
Ongoing theme clue for this season - the adipose planet has disappeared
It was also a relief that they acknowledge the kinda big elephant in the room and made it clear that there would be no romantic unrequieted feelings this series. The Doctor and Donna are just gonna be mates (which made for a bit of fun when Donna misheard his intentions "to mate").
The suprise at the end - the return of Rose! She's somehow made it back from Pete's World and must be trying to find the Doctor.
It was also sweet that Donna's first request is to fly to the portion of the sky her grandad peers at so he gets to see her and the Doctor (who he recognises) in the blue box.
Episode 2 - The Fires of Pompeii
First trip for Donna and it's back in time. The Doctor never seems to get it right because they end up in Pompeii, on "volcano day" rather than Rome. This episode had lots of (for future fans) interesting moments with the actors that end up playing Amy Pond and the Twelfth Doctor making an appearance.
First off the funny moments - both of them calling themselves Spartacus, Donna's attempts to speak latin (that end up apparently sounding Welsh/Celtic), Doctor Time Lord Yes vs Donna Human No. I knew Donna was going to be great because she wasn't going to take anything lying down, not even from the Doctor.
But this is also where we end up seeing the dilema of a time traveller - you can't save everyone, sometimes you have to let history play out (Pompeii is a fixed point in time) which means, letting people die, not warning them of their impending doom. Donna can't let this happen. And she eventually convinces the Doctor that sure, not everyone can be saved but one family, one family can be saved.
It was eye-opening for Donna as we realise that it's the Doctor who causes Pompeii. The volvano is erupting yes but not at the magnatitude history dictates. It's only then he realises the choice comes down to (1) blowing up the aliens in the volcano to save the world but lose Pompeii (2) not destroying Pompeii but leaving the world in jeaopardy. Although really when you think about it, there was never any choice but I guess by whose hands would the Pompeii citizens die.
The seers saw the Doctor and Donna's past and present but also a glimpse of the future. To the Doctor - "she is returning" (a reference to Rose) and to Donna - "there is something on your back" (bizarre). It was actually kinda intense with the red mood lighting and earthquake shakes when the two seers vied to out do each other.
Episode 3 - Planet of the Ood
Love the Ood. We first saw them two years ago on a space station in The Satan Pit and The Impossible Planet and they are back, this time with history. We get to see where the Ood come from and Donna gets to visit her first off-world planet.
The Ood have been subjugated by the humans and turned into (sorta) mindless servants. The corporation then ships the ood off across the galaxies to be domestic servants. What people don't realise is that natural ood don't have a translator ball, they carry their second brains in their hands (gross). But it shows their level of trust that they would carry their brains outside a protective skull.
Of course, this wouldn't be a Doctor Who episode without action and investigation and the Ood, are building up to a revolution. Some of them are turning rabid and attacking anything in their path. Red eye is always freaky.
One Ood however (Ood Sigma) is much smarter and has been secretly dosing the company head with an elixir that is slowly turning him into an Ood. It was really quite gross at the end when he peeled away his face to reveal...an Ood face underneath. But he totally deserved it. He disregarded both human and ood life, killing the Friends Of The Ood insider who secretly worked to free the Ood and giving the order to destroy hundreds of ood. I suppose in a sense the ood to him were nothing more than cattle.
The Ood prevail as the electrical field around their giant central brain (that connects all Ood) is switched off ("the circle must be broken"). It was a bit of a sad episode and Donna realises that space is not all it's cracked up to be. She thought she'd see amazing things (and she has) but she's also seen that there's still the ugly side to humanity - selfish and power-hungry.
One of the best quotes kind of tinged with sadness - Ood Sigma: "And know this, Doctor Donna. You will never be forgotten. Our children will sing of the Doctor Donna. And our childrens’ children. And the wind and the ice and the snow will carry your names forever."
Episode 4 - The Sontaran Stratagem
To be completed
Episode 5 - The Poison Sky
To be completed
Episode 6 - The Doctor's Daughter
To be completed
Episode 7 - The Unicorn and the Wasp
To be completed
Episode 8 - Silence in the Library
To be completed
Episode 9 - Forest of the Dead
To be completed
Episode 10 - Midnight
Wow. This was an incredibly intense episode that played on psychological fear, which is often the greatest fear of all - the fear of the unknown, of the other. I like this episode because it is so unlike other Doctor Who episodes but at the same time, the group-think and mass hysteria is really intense. And sadly quite a realistic portrayal of human nature.
The Doctor and Donna visit a mysterious planet called Midnight and Donna waves off the Doctor to spend the episode at a spa. The Doctor joins a cruise across the planet surface but the transport breaks down and an unnamed and unseen entity invades the cabin and posesses one of the passengers, driving everyone absolutely bonkers.
The ease with which fear and hysteria is whipped up is rather frightening. All it really took was one very anxious passenger to kick start the panic. You could see it happening, the one passenger who jumped immediately to the worst conclusion and then would not stop talking long enough to let logic and reason get a word in. Ironically if everyone had simply just shut up and not talked (rather than persist in telling the passenger to shut up - which she obviously couldn't), it wouldn't have gotten so out of hand.
Because this episode was all about voice. The entity first repeated everyone's speech with a slight delay, then spoke at exactly the same time as everyone. In the final phase, it stole the Doctor's voice and started speaking before he did, so the crowd thought that he was the one infected.
The Doctor was oddly powerless and all his grand speeches and clever talking came to nothing because she was speaking the same time he was. He was incredibly frustrated because no one would listen to him, in fact, they all ganged up on him. In a really cool (but extremely difficult to act) part, both she and the Doctor spoke the square root of pi to 30 decimal places. Bet that was a treat to film.
What was frightening was that in the space of 10-15 minutes they went from a group of easy going passengers chatting with each other to a fearful and aggressive mob intent on murdering their fellow passenger and not just one but as many as it took. True, the driver and mechanic were killed off screen but there was nothing actually physically threatening them and no guarantee that chucking people into the toxic atmosphere would kill the entity. After all, that's where the entity came from in the first place. They turned on anyone who dared to speak up and stand against the mob.
The scariest things are those that are unseen. And the most dangerous and terrifying monsters are ourselves.
Episode 11 - Turn Left
Last episode was a Doctor-centric episode and this time it's Donna's turn. Donna may think she's a nobody but as Rose tells her - she's the most important woman in all of creation. A bit of an over-the-top bold statement, but we get to see in this episode what the past two years would have been like without the Doctor. A world where Donna never crashes into the TARDIS as the Doctor is saying goodbye to Rose, never saves him from his rage against the Racnos, a world where the Doctor died that night and never regenerated.
Somehow, a parallel world has been created around Donna and in it, Donna makes one fateful step (turns right) that kicks off a chain of events. The Doctor stops the Racnos but loses his life; Sarah Jane saves the Royal Hope Hospital from the Judoon but both she and Martha Jones perish; The Titanic crashes into London decimating the lower third of England; 60 million Americans get turned into baby blobs of adipose; Gwen Cooper, Ianto Jones and Captain Jack defeat the Sontarans and ATMOS; the stars start disappearing from the sky. It's a bleak future and a hard life as humanity struggles against the various alien invaders and people lose hope.
These name drops lead to the biggest reveal of all - Rose Tyler. She's sure come a long way from a shop girl with no A-levels. She's been popping up here and there throughout the series and now we find out why. The walls are between the worlds are crumbling and she's been blitzing through the cracks trying to find the Doctor. She was too late, but realises Donna is the key, the only one who can fix things. So when Donna is finally ready, Rose explains what's been going on, the brighter future she should be having with the Doctor, and sends Donna back in time to that pivotal moment when she turned right instead of left. Rose sadly understands, and Donna eventually does too, that Donna must die for this to happen. So Donna bravely steps infront of a truck which results in back-in-time Donna turning left.
This breaks the spell and we return to the present in the off-world planet where the bug-creature that created the parallel world around Donna falls off her and dies. The Doctor returns and in conversation jogs Donna's memory about the blonde woman who told Donna to tell the Doctor two words. Those two words - Bad Wolf. Muahaha...danger awaits. And we end the episode with the cloister bell going off and the Doctor now knowing something is very very wrong.
It was an interesting episode and a twist on a traditional flashback. They managed to revisit old events and characters but change it by removing one factor - the Doctor.
Episode 12 - The Stolen Earth
To be completed
Episode 13 - Journey's End
To be completed